Tips for Divorced Couples Managing a Small Business

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

Running a small family business with your partner seems like the perfect life. You get to spend each day together working toward achieving your business’s mission; then, the unexpected happens, and you find yourself divorced. You need to stop and assess what is best for you and your business. Careful consideration and planning need to be done to ensure the correct decisions are made to allow your business to reach its goals.

Seek Professional Help

After your initial divorce, seek professional assistance to provide legal, business, and emotional support. Hire a solicitor to help you rework legal documents that need adjusting to reflect your new situation. For example, a solicitor could help you come to an agreement about what occurs if either person decides to leave the business. A business mediator could construct a plan to help you effectively work together. For example, you may agree to work on alternative days or at different times to reduce the possibility of conflict. Having counselling to work through emotional issues helps you both avoid internalizing negative feelings and facilitates open communication.

Clearly Define Your Roles and Responsibilities

To avoid conflict, make sure to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each person. Well-defined roles ensure you are not managing one another’s work and give you the scope to operate without interference. For instance, if you own an accounting business, you could service small-business owners, and your ex-partner could service nonprofit organizations. Identify each person’s strengths and weaknesses to help determine who should manage what aspect of the business. Devise a list that states each person’s responsibilities to reduce ambiguity and confusion; revise it quarterly to keep up-to-date with changing business conditions.

Refresh Yourself Before Making Decisions

A divorce is emotionally draining and interferes with your decision-making abilities. Take a break to reassess the direction you want to go in life and determine your priorities. After getting some personal time, you will think more clearly and make better business decisions. For example, after a vacation, you may conclude that working together after the divorce is going to be harder than you had previously anticipated, realizing you need to outsource part of your role to ensure the business runs efficiently. If you are still confused about what direction to take after refreshing yourself, continue to seek counselling and support from your family and friends before making any big decisions.

Allow for Changing Relationship Dynamics

Personal relationships evolve over time. You could initially find it difficult to conduct a healthy working relationship with your ex-partner but find it easier after the passing of time. Give yourself as much flexibility as possible when you are making new working arrangements after the divorce. For instance, if you own an online retail store and determine sales have slipped as a result of a lack of collaboration between you and your ex-partner in the first six months after your divorce, be prepared to work together more closely if you both feel you are ready. Have a contingency plan for how your business responds to your evolving relationship with your ex-partner.

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